IF/Then Short Documentary Program: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply? And when is the submission deadline?

To apply, please follow the instructions and deadlines listed for each pitch separately on our Pitches & Eligibility page. In an effort to support and amplify systemically excluded voices, each pitch will have a different focus and set of eligibility rules. An application for IF/Then consists of a series of questions that must be answered and submitted online, along with a link to view sample footage.

 Questions about the pitch may be sent to ifthenshorts@tfiny.org

What is the entry fee?

There is no fee to apply to participate in the IF/Then initiative.

Is my project eligible?

Projects can be in any stage of production (from development through post-production).

In an effort to support and amplify systemically excluded voices, each pitch will have a different focus and set of eligibility rules. Please follow the instructions and deadlines listed for each pitch separately on our Pitches & Eligibility page.

What is the criteria for selection?

The main criteria for the selection of the pitch finalists will be:

  • The artistic quality of the project
  • The originality and social relevance of the project idea
  • Robust storytelling that brings new facts, perspectives, and underrepresented stories to light
  • Financial feasibility and ability to finish the short documentary with $25,000 within 3 to 6 months of receiving funding
  • The estimated potential for the projects to travel

How many projects will be selected for the pitches? And how are winning films selected?

In general, six projects (with up to two participating members each) will be selected by TFI for each pitch competition.

The winner, one project, will be selected by a jury comprised of industry professionals and will receive a grant of up to USD $25,000 to complete the short documentary and to participate in a year long mentorship program managed by Tribeca Film Institute that offers creative control, revenue potential, and career development, and the opportunity to participate in the IF/Then distribution initiative.

How is IF/Then involved in the distribution of my short documentary?

IF/Then will provide guidance and strategy for the distribution of selected short documentary projects in the initiative for 1 year; with best efforts to protect filmmakers' creative control and full copyright of their work, to negotiate contracts and to provide revenue opportunities for the films. This distribution initiative will place control of the rights and revenue potential of filmmakers’ content in their hands by enabling TFI to serve as a guide for distribution for a year, including for multi-platform release, ensuring standards are upheld and negotiating terms for documentary filmmakers. 

Are student films or grad thesis eligible for IF/Then?

No, unfortunately we do not accept student film submissions.

If I am a first time filmmaker, am I still eligible to apply?

Yes, as an incubator of new and emerging talent, TFI is most passionate about elevating filmmakers who are in the early to mid-stage of their careers.

Can I request funding to be applied towards outreach, marketing or distribution?

No, funds can only be applied towards the completion of a film.

When will I be notified about my application status?

Each pitch and open call will have a separate set of key dates & deadlines. Please check our Pitches & Eligibility page for  upcoming calls for submissions, eligibility criteria, key dates, and deadlines. 

What kind of video sample do I need to apply to IF/Then?

In the application, you will be asked for a link to view a video sample of up to 3 minutes. The strongest applications and the strongest pitches are those that have a sample from the proposed film and that are able to convey the subject, approach and scope of the project. Alternatively, we are happy to look at scene selects or an assemblage.

If you do not have footage from the proposed film, you can submit a sample from prior completed work. Sample footage can be in any language or dialect; however, if it is not in English it must be subtitled.

What kind of photo do I need for my application? How can I get it to you?

You should upload a photo that best represents your film. It should be at least 10" (or 3000 pixels) with a 300 dpi resolution. You should upload a picture that you have the rights to, and that you are comfortable seeing online and in print, as it may be used for promotional purposes if your project is selected. Be sure to name your photo 'project title_photo credit text.jpg' before uploading it! We cannot accept photos by mail or email.

Does Tribeca own the rights to my project if it is selected for the program?

No. We do request that you place the IF/Then animated logo in the front credits and 2 logos (for TFI and IF/Then) in the closing credits along with the words: “Supported by Tribeca Film Institute-  IF/Then Shorts”.

Is IF/Then open to filmmakers from around the world?

Yes, IF/Then is open to filmmakers globally, with priority given to diverse and emerging filmmakers. Each pitch will have additional eligibility and criteria to follow. All sample work provided must have English subtitles. The program will only consider proposals written in English.

Are animated documentary films eligible to apply?

Yes, animated documentary films are eligible, but they must be able to be completed with the grant amount of up to USD $25,000.

If I am accepted into the program, will IF/Then cover my travel and accommodation to participate in the pitch?

Each film pitch will have its own travel and accommodation restrictions. Filmmakers will be given that information upon applying. 

If my project is selected for IF/Then, will it screen at the Tribeca Film Festival?

No, acceptance to IF/Then does not indicate acceptance to the festival, but we encourage you to apply to the festival if your film is completed in advance of April each calendar year. Filmmakers with completed films seeking to apply to the Tribeca Film Festival should fill out a separate application by visiting the festival's website.

Can I apply to other TFI programs?

Yes – but this is the only current TFI program for short documentaries. The other TFI programs open to feature films are listed here

Am I allowed to submit more than one project?

Yes, but you do need to fill out a separate application per project. And we strongly recommend that you put forth the one with the most momentum.

Where can I find additional answers to questions?

Our staff will be happy to answer any other questions or concerns you may have. Please contact us at ifthenshorts@tfiny.org or call us at 212-274-8080 x18.